The man was going to defend Obamacare, or so he said, and I was going to throttle him. Throttle him! He was standing before the storefront window in front of the assembled crowd ready to defend Obamacare for all to hear!
I wanted to shout at him, before he even began, that Obamacare is the biggest monstrosity foisted upon the productive, a “tax” – if that dastardly lawyer Roberts could so deem it – that will further erode the strength of the mighty, the very strength that daily weaves the fabric of our society together. It is blatant socialism, an egregious and shameless power grab by the government, an intrusive and unwelcome grab of the private purse strings of our citizenry. Anyone dumb or naïve enough to support this law does not understand basic economics.
He hadn’t said a word yet, but my blood pressure was already rising. Finally, I cupped my hands and managed to shout, “To take from those who have and give to those who need, by force, is wrong!”
I stepped forward to throttle the speaker, but I was delayed by a weathered little man with a seed cap on his head. “Get out of my way, farmer!” I yelled.
“Guiding principle!” The speaker suddenly shouted. “If you receive something- anything- for free or less than market value, someone else is paying the difference for you. Do not confuse price with cost!”
“Yes!! That’s right!” I agreed, confused by the speaker suddenly making sense. “We can’t be having all these poor people suckling off the productivity of those who produce!” I tried to get around the farmer to step closer, but he wouldn’t give up his spot easily.
“So I ask you then, dear listeners,” the speaker continued, “what of the farmer who receives a subsidy from the government? From whom does that money come? Who is paying him the guarantee that, because he is a landowner, his return on investment can be guaranteed, either through government backed insurance or direct payments? Is that not immoral? From where do the subsidies come?”
The farmer in front of me threw up his hands, waved the speaker off with a “pfffft” and walked away from the crowd. I made my way forward a little closer, only to be slowed down by a young couple.
“Guiding principle!” The speaker shouted again. “If you receive something- anything- for free or less than market value, someone else is paying the difference for you. Do not confuse price with cost!”
“Indeed!” I agreed aloud. The young couple was nodding their heads and clapping. “That’s right!” they said in unison.
“So what about first time home buyers program?” the man queried. “Is that not a form of welfare? From where do the reductions come? A magical fount?”
The young husband in front of me yelled back, “That’s not welfare! Don’t you know that what you want to discourage, as a society, you tax? And what you want to encourage, collectively, you incentivize through tax breaks?”
“Yes!” I chimed in, patting the young man on the back. “Homeowners take better care of their property! We want homeowners, not renters!”
The man stared us down. “Who’s paying the difference? Those who have or those who have not?”
The young couple threw up their hands and waved the speaker off with a “pfffft” and walked away from the crowd. I stepped closer to the front, but ran into the back of a bent over little man, trapped in the throes of poverty. His teeth were rotten, and his hair was matted down in stringy plats. His coat was old and torn.
“Guiding principle!” The speaker shouted yet again. “If you receive something- anything- for free or less than market value, someone else is paying the difference for you. Do not confuse price with cost!”
“Indeed!” I yelled so the man in front of me, obviously homeless, could hear me. “There is no such thing as a free lunch!” I continued. “Everyone knows this… or should!” I wondered how many social programs, how many handouts, he had squandered, his life still obviously a mess.
“So what about welfare itself?” the speaker asked. “Who pays for the food stamps and the Medicaid and the school lunch programs and the WIC and… why, I could go on and on!! From where does that money come? A magic tree filled with dollars for the picking? Progressives must think so, eh?!!”
“Speak on, brother!” I agreed, pumping my fist. “&!#% progressives!”
I then looked closer to the man standing in front of me, still bent over. His head turned, and his eyes met mine. To my surprise, pity welled up in me, pity for this man who, destitute by choice or by lot, nevertheless was my fellow man.
I stood tall and yelled back to the speaker, “Who are you – no, who are we – to judge who deserves to have and to have not? What of this man who stands here between us? Who will care for him, feed him, see that he doesn’t freeze or die from curable illness, if not us? Do we not have a social contract, as decent and kind people, fellow human beings, to care for this man? Perhaps we should at least have a social safety net for such as this man.”
I knew I had the speaker cornered, the raw emotion crackling my voice.
“Indeed!” he returned. “Indeed you – no, we – do have such an obligation! So give!! Take your wallet out, now, and empty it into his waiting hands! You hypocrite! You want this man to receive, good for you, but you don’t want to be the one to do the hard work of real giving! You want to give only the easy lucre and not be bothered to dig deeper, to take time from your own pursuits, and really help the man.”
I shot back, “If everyone would just give a little, then…”
“So everyone, did you hear that?” he waved over the crowd. “Everyone take out your wallet and give a little to this man!”
“You can’t make us! And who are you to tell me I have to give… and how much??!!” someone yelled.
“It’s my money to decide!” another countered.
“Exactly!” the speaker answered. “It is your money, and who is Uncle Sam to tell you how much to give? And why does Uncle Sam have to be the middleman? Do you think your dear Uncle Sam to be a good handler of money? Don’t you know that he produces nothing, and that much of every dollar he spends is borrowed? Tell me, who is the beggar? This man before you, or your Uncle Sam? Charity is one thing… indeed it is a wonderful thing! But forced charity? Forced at the eventual point of a gun? That’s immoral! The government is the LAST entity we should trust for the collection and distribution of our charitable dollars!”
At this, the man in front of me threw up his hands and with a “pffft” walked away from the thinning crowd.
The speaker hollered out a fourth time, “Guiding principle! If you receive something- anything- for free or less than market value, someone else is paying the difference for you. Do not confuse price with cost!”
“So get to Obamacare, you bigmouth!” I yelled. “If you – you! – call yourself a conservative, why do you call for the implementation of this monstrosity? Surely it goes DIRECTLY against your precious Guiding Principle!”
The man stood, looking back at me. Silent.
“It pays for abortions!” I doubled down. “It takes YOUR tax dollars, YOUR hard-earned money, money you could have saved for your retirement, so you wouldn’t be a burden to others, money you could have spent on your family, or for your own pleasure – it is your money, after all – and it gives to those who murder their own babies! That is beyond immoral!! You call me a hypocrite?”
I felt my fists clenching, my heart thumping and knocking inside my chest. I tasted the cool tingle of adrenaline.
The man stood steady, still silent. My breathing was heavy.
Finally, he spoke. “Abortion is murder.”
“Yes, it is!” I answered harshly. “And why should I be forced to pay for…”
“Abortion is murder,” he continued, “and you are right to oppose it.”
“Yes, I am.”
He held his hand up. “Did you oppose it yesterday? Did you oppose it the day before?”
“Yes, I’ve always been against it.”
“Did you speak out?”
I didn’t answer.
“Did you speak out like here today, or are you vocal only now that you have to pay for it?”
Still, I didn’t answer.
“Is this a handy issue for you? Easy to trot out at election time as a way to demonize your opponents? Do you really agree that it is murder?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Of the most innocent?”
“Indeed the most innocent, truly.”
“Then where was your voice yesterday?”
What could I say? I was too busy? Not my problem? I looked to the ground.
“My friends,” the man continued, “Be sure of what you believe!”
I looked back up at him. I started forward again.
“Guiding principle!” he continued. “If you receive something- anything- for free or less than market value, someone else is paying the difference for you. Do not confuse price with cost!”
The man looked solemnly over the remaining listeners. “There are many more to call out… college grant recipients, extended unemployment recipients, FEMA relief recipients, those on government disability, those “green energy” companies not competing in the open and fair market, but rather being subsidized… and there are others. That which is produced by others is low-hanging fruit, and it is addictive, surely addictive.”
I drew closer to the man. In the convolution of my thoughts, I hadn’t noticed that he was approaching me, though slowly, as well.
”The sow is dried up, fellow citizens! Dried up!” he hammered out again, “and yet we continue to find additional teats!!”
My pace quickened a bit.
“Listen to me! There are always those willing to suckle, and I maintain today that some who yell loudest about Obamacare have their own mouths full of free milk! Isn’t it hard to yell at those wanting some of their own, when your own mouth is full? You want for yourselves, don’t you? You want freedom. What you really want is for the edges of life to be rubbed smooth for you, so that few splinters stick, and yet you bemoan and belittle the same desires by your fellow man. You can’t have it both ways. If you insist that everybody pays their own way, then everybody pays their own way. If you insist on getting your freebies, then everybody gets their freebies. This is the heart of Obamacare. This is what it does. It calls your bluff. It holds up the mirror so you can see that you yourself have your hand in the till.”
Someone in the crowd suddenly yelled out, “But this law forces us to buy insurance! That’s not right!”
“You’re forced to do a lot things, sir,” came the response. “You’ve gotten used to it, and you’ll get used to this too.”
With that, I broke free to finally throttle the man. I rushed at him, and to my surprise he rushed at me. We both yelled out, simultaneously, “I’ll get you! You’re ruining my country!!” I reached out; he reached out.
We crashed together into breaking glass. The man I had listened to and argued with was myself. I stood alone with bloodied hands from the broken storefront window, as the words attributed to Benjamin Franklin came to me, “When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”